The other day, while having coffee with a friend (who happens to be part of Operator Said), I was finally able put in words my philosophy on running and training. Everyone uses their own strategy to finish that long run during training, to get up and train when they don’t feel like it and most importantly to make it across the finish line at a race.
During my first year of running, everything felt new and exciting. My mom and I started running together on a short path by the house. We hadn’t started a running regime, so our goal was always to run to the next light post. As each light post went by we told ourselves, “we can go to the next one”… “and the next one”. We did this until we made it to running 5 and 1s, then 10 and 1s, then a full 5km without stopping.
Then year two came around, and we were exhausted. In May 2011, we completed our second marathon, but we just were not feeling it. Runs were slower, and we were easily frustrated. Running had started off as being my stress reliever, now it was causing me stress. I was so obsessed with how far and how fast I was running, I sucked the fun out of running.
Then one day, sick and tired of the stress, I took off my watch and just ran. I don’t know how fast I went, nor how far I went, I just ran. At the end of the run, I was exhausted, but for the first time in a while, I enjoyed myself. This opened a door to my new running habit.
Today, I have ditched the watch. I calculate my root before I go and then I just run. I still calculate the distance, especially when I have a race coming up, but I don’t time myself. When I bring my watch, it is solely for 10 and 1s. Now, months later, when I am finish a race, I often forget to check my time. It is no longer a priority for me. I concentrate on the adventure I just had and the accomplishment I just completed.
I will never forget those moments running with my mom trying to make it the next light post. I will never forget the first run I did, I was nervous to run a 3km at the Xerox Run. Nor will I ever forget the moments Alain, my mom and other friends and loved ones shared during our long runs.
I will never be an elite runner, nor win a medal, so why stress out over finishing an extra 10 minutes earlier. Why not enjoy the moments I share with the ones I love.
Since I have started abiding by this new philosophy, I have created endless amounts of memories by just running. Instead of checking my watch, I look around and see the scenery. I saw my first snapping turtle that way. I talk with the people I am running with and learn new things about the people around me. Instead of counting down the minutes until I am done, when I am tired I stop and take pictures with my phone and tweet to the world where I am.
Don’t get me wrong, this new philosophy was not easy to adopt. As a runner so obsessed with my time, I had to realign my thinking. Here are some tips:
- An elite runner’s day
- Apple and oranges
- One size DOES not fit all
When I was running with no pace and no distance, I realized, I will never be an elite runner. What most people don’t realize, is elite runners just run, that is it. They train for 5 to 8 hours a day. No one with a job, family, or any sort of life at all has the time to do that. So to try and measure yourself against an elite and try to run their pace, is unrealistic.
Just look at the schedule of an average elite runner:
6 a.m. – Wake up
7 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Run!
3 p.m. to 10 p.m. – Attend events, see family, do normal people stuff
11 p.m. – Go to sleep and wake up the next morning to do it all over again
Don’t compare yourself to the taller skinnier person running at a 3:45 pace. Because, news flash, you are not that person. Embrace the person you are. I know of people who complained about finishing a marathon in 5.5 hours. Ummmm… four words: you finished a MARATHON!
It is also important, while you are reading this to realize this philosophy may work for me, but another method of thinking or practice may work for you. It all goes back to the previous point, don’t compare yourself to others. Do what is good for you. Run as far as you can, stop when you need to, and enjoy life.
Once you adopt this new philosophy, your running becomes more enjoyable, you start creating new memories, and most importantly, this positive thinking spreads to other parts in your life, your work, relationships, etc.
I would love everyone’s feedback on my philosophy of running. What do you think? What is your philosophy? I would love to hear your opinions and comments.